Stress is a given in the life of every small business owner. There’s no way to permanently eliminate stress from your life (nor would you really want to), but there are ways to take charge of it instead of letting it control you. Here are four strategies that successful business owners I know use to get a grip on stress.
Figure out what stresses you out. Often the sources of stress occur over and over again. Maybe it’s a weekly deadline that always seems to sneak up on you, or a tool you use every day that doesn’t work quite right. Perhaps you always feel stressed at the end of the business day or first thing in the morning. Once you’ve identified your stressors, take steps toward eliminating as many as you can. If your office printer constantly malfunctions at key moments, causing unnecessary crises, eliminate the stress by springing for a new model. Voila—problem solved.
Write it down. Juggling a never-ending to-do list in your mind is a major cause of stress. You’re bound to forget something crucial, and even if you don’t, you’ll worry that you will. Free up your brain (and lessen stress) by spilling everything you’re thinking about on paper (or laptop or tablet or PC…just be sure you choose one method and stick with it, or you’re creating even more stress for yourself). Getting obligations onto your calendar or your to-do list helps get them off your mind.
Take care of yourself. You wouldn’t abuse and destroy your business equipment, would you? Of course not—you keep it in tip-top shape so you can get maximum performance out of it. Do the same with your body by getting adequate rest, exercising regularly and eating right. Drink plenty of water and take quick breaks to get up from your desk and walk around the office. Just 10 minutes on your feet will rejuvenate you. Your body is your most important piece of equipment—so keep it tuned up and ready to work.
Delegate. Too often small business owners create their own stress by refusing to let go of any aspect of running their business. Sure, maybe no one in your office can empty the trash cans as well as you can—but do you really need to be doing it? If you’ve got employees, delegating not only frees up your time, but helps them learn and grow. If you can’t afford employees yet, look into solutions like virtual assistants or unpaid interns. And don’t assume you can’t afford to hire: Add up the time you spend on tasks someone else could be doing, run the numbers on the new business you could be bringing in if you had more time, and you may find that hiring a part-time staffer will quickly pay for itself.
The expert mentors at SCORE can help you come up with other ways to ease your stress and run your business more smoothly. Visit the SCORE website to get matched with a mentor and get free counseling online or off.